Austin City Limits was sad to learn of the death May 3 of singer/songwriter/bassist Tony Kinman of Rank & File, the pioneering alt.country band who appeared on the show in 1983. He was 62.
Along with his guitarist brother Chip, Tony Kinman formed the Dils, one of America’s first punk rock bands, in 1977 in Carlsbad, California and based in San Francisco. After the Dils ended, the Kinmans moved to Austin, Texas, picked up then-local guitarist Alejandro Escovedo, and formed Rank & File, one of the first groups of ex-punks to explore country music and what would later be called Americana. The band’s 1982 debut Sundown, released on pioneering indie label Slash, is now considered a classic forerunner of the alt.country/No Depression wave in the nineties. Following R&F’s three-album run, the Kinmans became Blackbird, a noise pop duo indebted to the Jesus & Mary Chain. The brothers shifted gears later in the nineties to Cowboy Nation, an acoustic duo that performed old cowboy ballads and originals in a similar vein. Throughout the brothers’ career, Tony’s rock-solid bass playing and distinctive baritone voice were the anchor of all the Kinmans’ musical endeavors.
Tony’s most recent work was producing the debut album by Chip’s latest band Ford Madox Ford. He died of cancer in hospice in his home of San Diego, surrounded by family and friends. Our hearts go out to his loved ones and we hope he rests in peace.
Below is Rank & File performing “Amanda Ruth,” a song some felt was the quintessential Tony song and performance.